In regard to Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen’s Aug. 11 advice column (“How to Fight Periodontal Disease”), I’d like to offer a vital addendum to the doctors’ recommendations on how to best address a newly diagnosed case of periodontal disease.
The column was correct in noting that periodontal disease – also known as gum disease – is a condition that can go beyond the mouth, often linked with such systemic conditions as diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Inflammation is a culprit in periodontal disease. However, curbing inflammation to halt the continued development of infection requires more than a suite of supplements, an exercise regimen and dietary changes.
These actions will certainly strengthen a person’s immune system. However, they do not tackle the bacterial plaque that causes periodontal inflammation. Patients should first visit their local periodontist to determine an appropriate action of treatment.
Periodontal disease often begins with painless symptoms, and as a result, many are unaware that they need treatment. By the time noticeable symptoms come to the fore (including teeth separating from gums, swollen and bleeding gums, mouth sores, persistently bad breath and the loss of bone holding the teeth to the jaw), the disease has already reached an advanced stage.
In addition to practicing daily at-home care habits (twice-daily brushing and daily flossing), the public is advised to undergo a comprehensive periodontal evaluation each year for a thorough health assessment of their teeth and gums. If diagnosed, periodontal disease is treatable and reversible — under the care of a periodontist, a dental specialist with expert training in caring for the gums, bones and structures that support the teeth. Just as with a physician, a relationship with a periodontist is essential. This is particularly vital when periodontal disease develops in patients with diabetes, arthritis or other systemic ailments.
One out of every two American adults over the age of 30 has some form a periodontal disease. As such, periodontal disease is cause for public concern. The public should understand that although they can do their part to maintain their oral health, the oversight and early treatment of a periodontal practitioner is the first and best line of defense in the onset of periodontal disease.
Stuart J. Froum, DDS, PC
President, American Academy of Periodontology